tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC August 20, 2010 12:00am-1:00am EDT
losing my religion. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm michael smerconish in new york for chris matthews. leading off tonight, coming home. after seven years and 4,400 casualties, the last american combat troops are out of iraq. operation iraqi freedom is over. now the 50,000 troops that remain in the country are in an advisory and training role. richard engel was embedded with the last combat brigade to leave iraq. he'll join us from kuwait at the top of the show. then a stunning poll number. 18% of all americans, nearly 1 in 5, say that president obama is a muslim. and that includes nearly a third
of all republicans. why have the misconceptions about president obama's religion lingered this long, and why were they growing even before the mosque controversy? and should the president himself do more to shake them? and what did sarah palin mean when she suggested radio talk show host dr. laura shouldn't retreat but should reload? dr. laura's quitting her radio program are repeatedly using the "n" word. and now palin is suggesting she's being muzzled by her critics and her constitutional rights are being trampled. plus a new documentary investigating whether the destruction in new orleans caused by hurricane katrina was made worse by the army corps. of engineers. the man once known as derek smalls, harry sheerer, joins us tonight. finally, i'll have thoughts about an american hero who helped save the capitol on 9/11 and why he's not getting a fair shake from the country who owes him so much. we begin with the dramatic end of combat operations in iraq. last night, nbc's chief foreign
correspondent richard engel was embedded with the last combat brigade to leave iraq. >> reporter: right now we're with the last american combat troops. they are in the process of leaving this country right now. we're traveling at about 45 miles an hour. but as soon as all 440 of these soldiers are into kuwait, the combat mission in iraq, operation iraqi freedom will be over. i think we're coming right up to the kuwaiti border now. >> there it is. >> the soldiers, you can pan behind me. they are unloading their weapons as we speak. and we are coming to a halt. you can see the lights of a border crossing point. we are approaching the lights, the towers at the border right now. it looks like we are crossing into kuwait. i've seen the flashes of some cameras. so there are other journalists there. there are -- if you look to the left, there are some soldiers waving this convoy in. maybe, craig, can you see over the machine gun?
we are entering through a gate. there's another camera. there's another soldier saluting. but a very small reception relatively speaking. lieutenant, so we are now in kuwait. we are in kuwait now. >> we are in the border area. how do you feel right now? >> it's a good feeling. i was 17 when i watched, you know 3rd id cross from kuwait into iraq. >> 17 years old. >> 17 years old, a junior in high school. >> reporter: this war has not just defined your military experience, it's bracketed your life. >> yes, in some way it's part of my young adult life. i joined the military knowing i would most likely deploy to iraq and to be part of that last unit coming out is a huge source of pride for me. >> the soldiers have opened the hatch and are out of harm's way. we are waiting for the rest of the convey to come this way. >> richard engel joins us in camp virginia in kuwait. i was mesmerized by your
coverage last night and indeed over a period of years. you owned this story. congratulations. can you tell us the backstory? it was a broadcast coup. obviously, it had to be a long time in the planning. >> reporter: yes, we are still with the soldiers from the 42 stryker brigade. it wasn't as complicated as you might think. we simply asked the u.s. military. we said we wanted to be part of this last convoy. they told us roughly when it would be. they didn't tell us exactly. we organized an embed and we signed up for it. the military officials say they were offered this to many different media outlets, and they simply didn't have that many takers. >> the joy of the soldiers has been obvious from your interviews. what are you able to say about the attitude of the iraqis? what is their perception of what has just transpired? >> reporter: iraqis are very nervous. now, american troops haven't been patrolling parts of
downtown baghdad for a long time. so it's not that these soldiers from the 42 stryker brigade have just been taken off of downtown baghdad and to kuwait. they were already on a training mission with the iraqi army and work with the iraqi police. now, however, iraqis do see these images and they're worried what will it mean. americans are changing the mission here. the combat mission is over. what will that mean for the future in a downtown baghdad neighborhood? and mostly, they're worried about their own government. more than five months after the national elections, there still isn't a consensus government in iraq. the government that's in place still can't provide basic services. so as they watch these images on television and they see american troops leaving the country, crossing into kuwait, those concerns particularly about their own political system, certainly come to the forefront. >> something else i was wondering. i don't know if there's a protocol for this size and scope
of a troop withdrawal. but is there a reason it was done by convoy and i understand getting the machinery out but as opposed to flying the troops out of iraq? was that a security consideration? >> both. soldiers are flying and are driving out. soldiers particularly from this stryker brigade have been flying out from baghdad. this particular convoy decided to drive out. i think there was a symbolism involved. i think they wanted to give some sort of closure for the unit, for the american combat mission. and i think there was an idea to try and slow this process down. the u.s. military could have left and ended this combat mission a lot sooner. but by driving, they would give the iraqi government, iraqi politicians a little bit more time to continue their negotiations. so i think it had a symbolic effect and it also -- it didn't end up working. but giving the iraqis a few more days at least to try to hammer out a government.
that part didn't work. the drive out was a success. it went by peacefully. there was not a single shot fired at these troops as they left iraq and entered here into kuwait. >> richard, stay with us if you're able to do so. we want to bring in washington post editor david ignatius. what are we leaving behind? >> we don't know yet. as richard say, we're waiting for the iraqis to form a new government five months after the election. the u.s. had hoped during this period in which we still had combat troops there we could exert some leverage and get them to closure. it hasn't happened. i had a long conversation with an iraqi friend who is part of this government. he said for the moment there really is a deadlock. the american view in washington within the administration is the iraqis are going to have to learn how to sort out their own problems. they're going to have to find a way to find a government.
they're going to have to deal with their serious security problems that still exist. i was struck during richard's wonderful reporting about the hundreds of journalists who went in with the u.s. troops in march of 2003 and how few people there are to see this exit seven years later. >> it seemed a rather muted response from the administration, or am i wrong? >> i think the administration is happy that the -- that they've delivered on their promise to get u.s. combat troops out. i think this administration has been uncertain how strong a role it wants to play now in iraq. we've spent so many billions of dollars. so many lives. and i think my own feeling is, we have interests there. we ought to have a way we can be helpful of the government. sometimes we have to push them to get things done. the administration some weeks does that, other weeks doesn't. i think they're still sorting out what their policy toward this new iraq is going to be. i think that begs the question. and i'll ask david ignatius and include richard engel as well. under what circumstances would we go back? heaven forbid it should take a turn for the worse, david.
under what circumstances do you think the administration has identified a return? >> i don't think they've made that decision, michael. the nightmare would be with the u.s. combat troops gone, iraq will slip back towards the kind of sectarian violence, let's call it by its real name, towards the civil war situation that existed in 2006 and 2007. the u.s. is prepared to see more blood shed there and say the iraqi police have to deal with it. but at some level that bloodshed and disorder could become so great that the u.s. solely on humanitarian grounds would have to ask what can we do to stop this. i don't think the administration has anything like an answer yet. >> richard, what thoughts may you have on that subject as to the circumstances by which we would be drawn back in? >> well, it is something that american commanders here in iraq, i'm so used to saying here meaning iraq, but u.s. commanders in baghdad certainly don't want to do.
if there was an attack like there was just a few days ago when at least 60 people were killed in downtown baghdad, u.s. troops didn't respond to that. they worked with their iraqi partners. they shared information. but they didn't leave their bases and respond to that. so i think we'll see that kind of thing certainly going forward if there are bombings in baghdad, if there are incidents along that scale of magnitude. if there's a total catastrophe and a civil war-like situation is developing again, then it would be a very awkward situation for american troops that are there operating as trainers. how can there be massacres going on just a few miles off bases and american troops are sitting there? what americans would like to do is stay on their bases and just give as much support to the iraqis, as much intelligence, as much drone support as possible. but if the wheels really come off the bus, they would be in a very difficult position not to act. >> i have secretary general colin powell's words running through my head relative to pottery barn. if you break it, you own it.
do we still own it? >> we are trying to hand it over right now. iraq, the logic that is being prevalent now in the united states seems to be, we've done the mission and it's now the iraqis' responsibility. that these u.s. troops have done all that they can do, and they have been -- they have done everything that they were asked to do. they toppled a dictator. they came back and stopped a civil war and now they left of the recently with a very honorable exit. not a single shot fired at their convoy as they left. the argument is the u.s. has done all that it can. it's up to the iraqis. iraqi people see it very differently. they saw the invasion, and they think that the americans brought in these politicians because most of the iraqi politicians were living in exile. they arrived with the americans. so they associate the two together. they say the greatest superpower in the world had a responsibility to bring more
power, to help us sort through our political situation too, and now they feel, well, they're dumping it into our laps. perhaps the iraqis with the problems in their laps will react to them. iraqis certainly look both to the united states and their government as partly responsible for what has happened to them both good and bad. >> richard, thanks for a fine job. david ignatius, appreciate you being on the program tonight. >> thanks. >> coming up, why is the number of americans who believe president obama to be a muslim on the rise? what, if anything, should the white house do about it? you're watching "hardball" on msnbc. don't fix the leak. or anything in the house... without blueprint from chase. create a plan to pay off large purchases... and save money on interest. does your credit card have blueprint? design your plan at 866 blueprint. [ female announcer ] start your morning... hey. what are you doing up?
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but sestak's camp released their own internal poll showing too manye's lead is just two point. as nbc's political unit points out, it's never a good thing to be trailing in your own internal poll but it's clear that democrats want to show the senate race in pennsylvania is still winnable for them. we'll be right back. mom: max. ...maxwell! piggy: yeah? mom: you're home. piggy: oh,cool, thanks mrs. a. anncr: geico. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more.
i got to ask you a question. i do not -- i can't trust obama. i have read about him, and he's not -- he's not -- he's an arab. he is not -- no? >> no, ma'am. no ma'am. he's a decent family man. citizen, that i just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. that's what this campaign is all about. he's not. thank you. >> wow. that was an unforgettable moment from the campaign trail in 2008. a moment where john mccain beat back misinformation about barack obama.
well, new polls show that the country's beliefs about the president are shifting. a pew research center poll finds that just 34% of the country think president obama is a christian. 18% say he's a muslim. 43% say they don't know. you can see that's a big change from march of '09. among republicans, just 27% say president obama is a christian. a 20-point drop from march of '09. 31% say he's a muslim. a 14% spike from march of '09. today a white house spokesperson put this out -- >> the poll's finding are not surprising given the scope of the issues we are focused on. the president's strong christian faith is what guides him through these challenges but he doesn't wear it on his sleeve. >> so why are these numbers changing, and is it a problem for the president? mark, why would those numbers be on the rise?
>> it's a great political story but it's so unfortunate for the united states and for our relationships around the world. those numbers show a degree of ignorance. i think it can only be based on the kind of prejudice we're seeing in this country seemingly on the rise against muslim-americans. i think president obama during the campaign did not go all out in wearing his religion on his sleeve but certainty was more identified with his christian faith as a candidate than he has been in the white house. that combined with some of the swirl of anti muslim feeling and some of the attacks that have come against the united states have created a really bad confluence. >> when you ask those who mistakenly believe the president is a muslim, where are you getting the information? 60% of them say the media. what media are you talking about? >> well, in all likelihood, the new media. you don't need to sample much talk radio or go on too many websites without seeing a lot of
misinformation. not just about the president. but about americans of muslim faith and muslims around the world. in the latest issue of "time" magazine we have a cover story by my colleague that talks about the misinformation, the distrust about the faith. and again, i think it is a dangerous cocktail. that some of the hostility, the misinformation, the ignorance that comes from various sources is being mapped onto the political leader who needs to lead us out of this problem. >> speaking of the world of talk radio, here's rush limbaugh reacting to the poll numbers. let's listen. >> "washington post." there's panic out there. polls show more americans think obama is a muslim, spreading of falsehoods is to blame. "washington post" leaves out the fact in their story one in ten democrats think that imam obama is a muslim.
one in ten democrats. on page two of the "washington post" poll, 61% oppose the ha-mosque. >> he makes a point. one in ten democrat dozen have that view. then tongue in cheek he talks about the president and uses his name in vain and so for the. you wonder if that fosters it, as well. >> i don't wonder, i know. rush limbaugh is playing a dangerous game as are many talk show hosts in spreading misinformation in an cute way. >> can i say relative to spreading false information. i've got snoepz.com. it's like six pages long. crazy stuff. i get sent this sort of thing every day. not only by kooks but by people who think what do you think now? i've never seen a campaign of such disinformation or so many people willing to believe it. here's my substantive question for you. now i want to go back to the
fabulous book "game change." put that hat on. if you were advising the obama white house, would you say, go to church, mr. president? >> well, go back to game changers. a couple of very relevant thing. during the campaign, the obama people, when they did focus groups and they did a lot of them, they would hear it all the time. obama is a muslim. obama is not a christian. obama has ties to terrorists. they heard that constantly and it was one of their biggest fears. he didn't visit a mosque. he didn't do anything to -- did he his best to show his christian faith enough to try to convince people what the truth was. the other thing you see is the president didn't go to church a lot. part of the reason he had trouble defending himself against the controversy with reverend wright is the reason he missed most of those controversial sermons or as he says all those controversial sermons is because he didn't go to church all that much after his two kids were born. >> if he goes now, the skeptics say he's going to church just to convince us he's a christian.
mark, thank you. irshad manji is author of the trouble with islam today. a muslim's call for reform in her faith. is the country islama-phobic? >> i don't think so and i'll tell you why i think so. three years ago when the country was in far better economic straits than we are now, the pew research center came out with the first ever comprehensive study of muslim-americans. in the survey they found that 73% of muslim-americans say they have never experienced an act of discrimination on u.s. soil. 73%. we couldn't even come close to those numbers in parts of europe. this country is not inherently islamaphobic. notice how i started off my answer to you? in better economic times, we had much more openness, much more tolerance, much more inclusion. history shows every society, not just america, but including
america, becomes more insular and intolerant when living standards fall. >> you may think this is nuts. i thought the reason why the fellow, the stewardess at jetblue got so much support is because the people are angry about the economy. it was a hell yes kind of moment. let me show you some data. 61% -- only 61% think a muslim should be able to run for president. 65% think a muslim should be able to be on the supreme court. 71% think the mosque near ground zero insults the 9/11 victims. 61% oppose the construction and asked whether most u.s. muslims are patriotic, 55% say yes. 25% say no. 21% had no answer or said they didn't know. some pretty stunning numbers in there. >> well, i love the fact that you think that they are stunning numbers. because what that that means is, michael, that you like many more americans have higher expectations of this country. that gets to what it is that
muslims around the world tell me they love. about america. you know with, my book, i've been traveling right across the globe for the last number of years. i am always amazed when young muslims say to irshad, is there any way you can bring me to the united states so i can live there and study there? i say really? i say what about gitmo and the patriot act? over and over the young muslims say that's unjust, but it's an exception. we know that's not what america is about. >> professor speaking of expectations allow me to get your counsel on this. moderate islam. does moderate islam in the united states bear some culpability for the data that we're discussing by not speaking out more often? >> it's a brilliant insight on your part, michael. i would argue that, yes. these numbers in my view are as much a reflection of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of moderate muslims as they are indicative of anything else.
the reason i say that is that once again over and over moderate muslims themselves have failed to be clear with the american people about who is a terrorist and who is not a terrorist. it's always about u.s. foreign policy that produces terrorists. rather than we muslims taking responsibility for ourselves as well. i firmly believe that most americans, not all, but most americans are fair-minded enough that if they hear moral clarity from moderate muslims, these numbers in terms of the percentages we're hearing would lower significantly. >> professor, thank you for being on the program. we appreciate it. >> up next, charlie crist celebrates the fact that his days as a republican are a thing of the past. check out sideshow. because that's next. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. ] luxury seating for up to seven. the performance of a mercedes-benz. maybe you don't have to settle for a minivan. maybe you don't have to settle...period. introducing the newly-redesigned 2011 r-class. ♪
welcome back to "hardball." now to the side show. say this for charlie crist, he knows which way the wind blows. remember, it was just april when he left the republican party to run as an independent. watch crist yesterday address a democratic leaning crowd in florida. >> i've got to tell you that i'm so honored to have this support in this race. it's not the easiest thing to do for an elected official to come out and support an independent. you know, i used to be a republican. but -- yeah, thank god, right, used to be. >> thank god. used to be. well, crist's strategy looks to be working at least for now. a new quinnipiac poll shows he has a solid lead over republican opponent marco rubio. next up, alabama mayoral candidate put out this flier of her with university of alabama football coach nick saban saying she had won his endorsement. but take a closer look at that
photo. like maybe it was photo shopped? turns out it was. the birmingham news uncovered this photo on the left? the real image of saban used in that flyer was taken three years ago with his wife. davidson's campaign manager has admitted to faking the endorsement and the photo saying that he acted alone in misleading davidson and the rest of the campaign. finally as reported by the wall street journal, the law of unintended consequences. frito-lay just came out with a new sun chips bag that's 100% biodegradable. the hitch, the new pag is much noisier. here's the proof. ruffles. sun chips. no surprise that 30,000 facebook users have joined the group, sorry, but i can't hear you over this sun chips bag. amid the backlash, frito-lay has attached signs to store shelves
that read yes, the bag is loud. that's what change sounds like. well said. now for tonight's "hardball" big number. bill clinton, our youngest former president celebrates his birthday today. how old is he? 64. bill clinton, 64 years young today. tonight's not so big number. now a programming note. be sure to watch the "today show" tomorrow morning for meredith vieira's interview with side show all star rod blagojevich. it's blago's first sit down interview since his corruption trial which ended in a one-count conviction this past tuesday. up next, radio talk show host dr. laura schlessinger is quitting her gig after criticism for using the "n" word on the air. now sarah palin has come to her defense suggesting her constitutional rights are being violated and encouraging her not to retreat but to reload. that's ahead you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. traveled to fairbanks, alaska. home of one of the coldest, longest nights on the planet.
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hello, everyone. i'm lynn berry. a prison escapee and his accomplice are in prison in arizona. mccluskey and the woman were captured near the arizona border. in texas, a suspected carjacker led police on a dramatic chase busting through a locked airport gating and speeding down an active runway before being taken into custody. the state department is challenging china to step up to the plate in the desperate race to get raid to floodwaters. hip-hop star wyclef jean is
not on a list of approved presidential candidates in haiti. and roger clemens said he's happy to have his day in court. welcome back to "hardball." sarah palin has now come to the defense of dr. laura schlessinger. dr. laura, who hosts a radio talk show, made these comments last week. >> is it okay to say that word? is it ever okay to say that word? >> it depends how it's said. black guys talking to each other seem to think it's okay. >> but you're not black. they're not black. my husband is white. >> oh i see so a word is restricted to race. got it. can't do much about that. >> i can't believe someone like you is on the radio spewing out the "n" word and i hope everybody heard it. >> i didn't spew out the "n" word.
right, i said that's what you hear. >> everybody heard it. >> yes, they did. i hope everybody heard it. >> they did. i'll say it again. [ bleep ] is what you hear on hb -- why don't you let me finish a sentence? >> okay. >> don't take things out of context. don't naacp me. >> i know what the n words means. >> schlessinger apologized saying using the language was wrong and that a tv appearance announced she was quitting her radio show and why. >> my contract is up for my radio show at the end of the year. i've made the decision not to do radio anymore. i want to regain my first amendment rights. i want to be able to say what is on my mind and in my heart and what i think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is a time to silence a voice of dissent. >> and now sarah palin has
weighed in via twitter in support of dr. laura. she tweets, dr. laura, don't retreat, reload. steps aside because her first amendment rights cease to exist thanks to activists trying to silence. isn't american, not fair and then tweets dr. laura, even more powerful and effective without the shackles. so watch out constitutional obstructists and be thankful for her voice, america. jay newton-small is a reporter for "time" magazine. errol louis is a columnist for the "new york times." is she, and by she i mean governor palin, is she crazy like a fox? this may seem obabhorrent on the surface that she would embrace someone who used the "n" word 11 times in the midst of a radio broadcast. but does it not drum up support
among the hard-core base in the gop? >> absolutely. dr. laura is very popular with this base within the gop. a lot of people are very upset that she decided to retire that, she would no longer be on the air. in that sense, it definitely does speak to that base of people who tend to be sarah palin supporters. and it stirs up controversy. and palin can also empathize with her. i think she fees she's also been this conservative woman who's been piled on by the mainstream media and has fought back successfully and in the same sense is encouraging dr. laura to fight back when she feels -- >> i know you had a lot of exposure to her. does she think before she tweets? i couldn't say whether she thinks before she tweets. but i can definitely say she does it herself. when i interviewed her last year in alaska, she came to the dinner with me earlier this year. she's very hands on. she does everything herself. she called me directly. she would e-mail directly about the arrangements. she doesn't really go through staff. what you see on twitter and what you see on facebook is very much her out there. upsets mistakes and made-up words and everything, like
refudiate which she sort of coined a couple of weeks ago. sometimes she fixes the spelling mistakes. people say there's this mistake here or there. i definitely think it's her out there doing it. >> errol lewis, i'm not sure if i upgraded you or downgraded you but you're with the daily news. what's interesting to me is the politics of this. ever since the president weighed in on the mosque and then harry reid weighed in on the mosque, it is now license for all candidates to be asked about the mosque. is sarah palin's involvement now with dr. laura going to cause this, do you think, to be an issue where somebody running for congress gets asked what, did you make of dr. laura's use of the n word? >> well, sure. there's a lot of distraction coming on. on a day when new jobless claims shows a disturbing upward tick we should be talking about this stuff is in some ways unfortunate. that seems to be the strategy of the gop. they want to talk about cultural issues. get their base talking. see if they can round them up in time for the november election.
i do think that sarah palin and dr. laura could use a refresher course in the first amendment. you know what i mean? they're both using it in wildly inaccurate fashion. >> how so? dr. laura says she wants to reclaim her first amendment right. >> michael, i do a radio show in the morning here in new york. i'm a big fan of yours. you know that we who are blessed to have that kind of a platform, dr. laura was on in 200 markets plus satellite radio. to say her rights were being abridged because somebody spoke up and say they didn't like her spewing what is arguably the most offensive word in the english language is ridiculous. her rights were not taken away in any way, shape, or form. and the first amendment refers to government censorship, not her listeners complaining about something stupid that she said. you know? i mean, and for sarah palin to play along with it, somebody who held an important office, governor's office and ran for a high office in national government is also very unfortunate. but they're pushing hot button cultural issues forward.
they're not really trying to educate. and that in part is why dr. laura's radio career has come to an end. >> jay newton-small. let me ask you a question about governor palin. is she for giving or is she forgetful? ben smith reported at politico today about something said about -- by dr. laura about governor palin at the time she was selected by john mccain. she said i'm stunned. couldn't the republican party find one competent female with adult children to run for vice president with mccain? i realize his advisors probably didn't want a mature woman as the democrats keep harping on his age. but really, listen to this now, what kind of role model is a woman whose fifth child was recently born with a serious issue, down's syndrome and then goes back to the job of governor within days of the birth? do you think sarah palin was aware of that when she decided to weigh in in support of dr. laura? >> i'm not sure if she was aware of that or not. i haven't spoken to her about it. i can say that you know, if she
got mad at every single republican out there, every single conservative that called her unequaled or said she shouldn't have been picked as a vice president, then she wouldn't be talking to a lot of people. >> but they're calling to question the whole parenting thing. hey, errol lewis, one final issue. i'm disappointed in dr. laura for uttering the "n" word one time, much less 11 times. because there was a great conversation taking place about this double standard where some can use that word and she pointed to hbo. i always watch those comedy shows. i'm shocked by some of the routines but that got lost in translation. >> it was a shame. the caller was fascinating. if you and i got into an -- a party who wanted to talk about it intelligently and honestly, that's rare. and you're supposed to listen, not talk over them and insult them the way she did. >> i appreciate you being here. thank you, jay newton small and, errol lewis. up next, were the floods in new orleans after hurricane katrina made worse by the u.s. army corps of engineers? that's the question raised by
harry shearer ''s new documentary called "the big uneasy." this is "hardball" only on msnbc. mom's on her way over. this chair smells. we gotta wash this thing, now. wash it?! [ male announcer ] there's a better way to get rid of odors. for all the things you can't wash, freshen it with febreze. to eliminate odors and leave a fresh scent. [ sniffs ] whoa. febreze. it's a breath of fresh air. when something's safe? you talk to these guys. they go through every car and truck we make with a big fat red pencil. because they know a family's going to be inside. a teenager. a guy on the way to the job. the engineers of chevrolet. just another reason why we can offer a 5-year 100,000 mile powertrain warranty.
and another reason why a chevy's a chevy. quick, name the person who leads the republican party. michael steele, sarah palin, rush limbaugh. how about mississippi governor haley barbour? he's the chairman of the governor's association and he has more money onto spend on the midterms than any other republican around. $40 million. politico goes on to say privately many republicans consider bar bore the defacto party chairman and that he's warming to a presidential run of his own in 2012. "hardball" will be right back. missing something? like 2 pairs of glasses for $99.99 at sears optical. now includes bifocals at the same great price for a limited time. hurry in to sears optical today and don't miss a thing. [ female announcer ] start your morning... hey. what are you doing up?
we're back. it's been five years since hurricane katrina devastated new orleans. there's a new documentary coming out. it's called "the big uneasy." here's the trailer. >> welcome to new orleans. >> we all know what happened to new orleans on august 29th, 2005. >> the u.s. army corps of engineers, their defense was this was a humongous storm. >> they covered up. >> someday there will be a catastrophic flooding. they never heeded this advice. >> congress sent a clear message, don't mess with the corps. ♪ >> people didn't have to die. >> we're joined now by the director of "the big uneasy" harry shearer. derek as small as and "spinal
tap" forever changed the way i look at rock. i have a feeling that "the big uneasy" will forever change the way we look at katrina. >> i hope so. when you said in the last segment hurricane katrina devastated new orleans. the starting point was when dr. ray seed of uc-berkeley said if the hurricane protection system had been working as designed, the worst katrina would have inflicted on new orleans would have been wet ankles. i needed to find out what he meant by that. that's the story of this film. it was not really a natural disaster. what happened in mississippi -- >> you were watching the president overseas. he delivered a speech and said it was not only the result of a natural disaster and that it piqued your curiosity. >> we know in new orleans what happened in mississippi was a natural disaster. they had a one-day hurricane event. what happened in new orleans was more than 50 breaches in a system that was built over a period of more than four
decades, never completed, under congressional mandate after hurricane betsy, built by the army corps of engineers to prevent this sort of thing from happening. we know that it didn't. as a matter of fact, hurricane betsy, which is a big hurricane as well, flooded 20% of the city. this thing, because of the more than 50 failures in the system around the city, flooded 80% of the city. so we federal taxpayers didn't get what we bought. >> harry, here's another clip from the movie. let's all watch. >> the guys from berkeley also were having problems. then the corps of engineers started to erect fences around the site. the berkeley fellows were blocked from 17th street. the attorney general sent one of the lead attorneys down with bolt cutters. he was going to cut the locks and declare it a crime scene and then the corps of engineers wouldn't have access there anymore. >> what's the story there? >> the corps of engineers made very reassuring stories.
they made them up to 2005. when things fail and their projects don't work as advertised, they take a very defensive attitude towards their critics. and one of the stories of the film is the negative career consequences for the people who have spoken up and told the truth about the corps. and the lack of negative career consequences for people in the corps who did this to a major american city. >> should so many people be living below sea level? >> more than -- well, half of new orleans is at or above sea level. half the city by that definition is okay. john barry, the author of "rising tide" points out that every port in the world is built at sea level. by that standard, new orleans is doing better than most of them. that's not the problem. >> here's another clip from "the big uneasy." >> we know katrina was in 1 in
30-year storm. >> likely experience category 1 or category 2 conditions. >> this is contrary to the u.s. corps of engineers who are trying to claim that katrina was. >> reporter: in 1 in 496 probability of occurrence. >> the army generals came out in their green suits and immediately said -- >> that was a big storm. >> the reason they're doing that is to cover their behinds. >> who's got the right answer? >> well, you know, part of it is why the corps operates the way they do. we go into some detail in the movie. the corps acts the way it does because people like it that way. there are people in new orleans who invited the dutch in. the dutch have 700 years of experience in dealing with below-sea level experience. so far we haven't taken their advice. they say don't fight a war with water, learn to live with it.
with climate change, we'll have a lot more challenges to living with water. >> take the final minute and talk about a mockumentary versus documentary. >> we have a lot more fun making mockumentary. i had a wonderful crew in new orleans. it was a wonderful experience working with these people who really know -- the people in this movie are the experts on the subject. it was exciting to be able to try to tell the story in a complete and hopefully comprehensible manner to correct what the american people have been told about this disaster five years ago. >> august 30 release, correct? >> one night only nationwide. fifth anniversary of the flood. we'd love to see everybody there. >> "the big uneasy" august 30 release. harry shearer, thank you so much for being on "hardball."
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welcome back. joint terrorism task force agent jose melendez perez is an american hero who arguably prevented an attack on the u.s. capital. on august 4th, 2001, he was conducting secondary screenings at the orlando international airport when he prevented a hijacker from gaining admittance to the united states. because of that, united 93 had three, not four terrorists aboard. a fact that helped ensure that flight did not reach its intended target, the nation's capital. today, jose sat idle in a customs and border patrol office in orlando, forced to report to a building where he does nothing of consequence, awaiting the outcome of an investigation he knows little about. here's why. on the night of april 16 of this year, jose's personal car was in
the car was broken into and jose's firearm was stolen. he told me that the theft of the firearm and not the use of the government vehicle seems to be the focus of a local cbp investigation, of which he's the subject. jose said it's highly unusual for someone to be removed from his position during an investigation like this, which is administrative and not criminal. he recognizes that he made a mistake three-plus months ago. and so do i. but jose melendez perez deserves a resolution. this is a man whose instincts and street smarts arguably saved a strike against the nation's capital on september 11. but today he arrived at a federal building in florida and sat in front of a computer, biding his time and awaiting his fate. that's no way to treat a hero of the war against terrorists, especially when the war is yet to be won. the man's case requires resolution. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us.